This biography of the famous jazz singer goes from his youth to his successful career and ends with his imminent divorce.
In a Washington DC burlesque theater cello player Steve Martin (William Demarest) asks the audience to sing, and young Asa Yoelson (Scotty Beckett) sings well. Steve tells his father, Cantor Yoelson (Ludwig Donath) and mother (Tamara Shayne) that he wants to hire him. Refused, Asa runs away and hops on a train to Baltimore. A policeman takes him to a Catholic house for boys. Asa sings "Ave Maria," and his parents agree to let him work for Steve. They travel. When his voice cracks, Asa whistles.
Steve bills him as Al Jolson (Larry Parks). When Tom Baron (Bill Goodwin) is drunk, Al goes on for him in black face and sings "Rosie." Lew Dockstader (John Alexander) asks Al to sing in his minstrel show, and Steve lets him go. Al keeps singing "I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad." In New Orleans he hears jazz, is late for the show, and is fired.
Al comes home. Tom Baron calls Al for a spot in Hammerstein's Broadway show. Al's number is cut, but he goes on anyway and sings "Mammy." Al is a smash hit, and he hires Steve as his manager. Al sings "I'm Sitting on Top of the World." When an opening is running long, Al cuts the play and sings "You Made Me Love You" with the house lights on so he can see faces. Al gets a runway and sings "Swanee." Al goes on tour and sings "Toot-Toot Tootsie, Goodbye." Ann Murray tells Al that she is marrying someone else.
Al makes a movie deal and sings "April Showers" for Julie Benson (Evelyn Keyes) and then "California Here I Come." At a party Julie mimics Al, who asks her to marry him. Al stars in the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer. Al flies to New York for Julie's opening and sings from his seat. Al marries Julie and takes her to his parents. Al tells her he is going to do another movie. Julie's show closes, and she goes to California.
Al has a contract for Julie, and she stars in 42nd Street and other pictures. Together they make Go Into Your Dance and sing "About a Quarter to Nine." Julie wants a house in the country, but Al keeps working. Julie suggests separating, and Al gives up working for her. They retire to their new home. Julie and Steve bring his parents for a visit. Tom Baron comes in, and Al reads his show. Al's parents celebrate their wedding anniversary, and the Cantor gets Al to sing "The Anniversary Song." Tom takes them to a nightclub, and Al is asked to sing. He sings "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" and "Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody." When he sings "April Showers," Julie leaves. She tells Steve to put Al on the plane with Tom to do his new show.
Ruby Keeler refused to let her name be used, but Julie
Benson represents her. Jolson loved to sing and perform so much
that he had little time for a personal life; but he made many
people happy with his entertaining.